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Noise management at EU airports

This summary has been archived and will not be updated. See 'EU airport noise' for an updated information about the subject.

Noise management at EU airports

Reducing noise pollution from aircraft and improving the noise climate around airports are key objectives of the European Union’s (EU) air transport policy. The purpose of this directive is to prevent an overall increase in noise levels in areas around airports.


Directive 2002/30/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 March 2002 on the establishment of rules and procedures with regard to the introduction of noise‑related operating restrictions at Community airports [See amending act].


This directive aims to promote the sustainable development of air transport through the reduction of noise pollution from aircraft at airports. The use of aircraft with a better environmental performance can contribute to a more effective use of the available airport capacity and facilitate the development of airport infrastructure in line with market requirements.

The directive lays down common rules for prohibiting the noisiest aircraft from European airports and repeals Regulation (EC) No 925/1999, the 'Hushkit' Regulation, which was intended to prohibit the registration in Europe of aircraft fitted with noise-reducing devices.

This new directive allows airports with a noise problem to introduce a series of operating restrictions, including the gradual withdrawal of the noisiest aircraft. The 'Hushkit Regulation' had maintained the status quo and did not provide for the withdrawal of aircraft fitted with noise-muffling systems already operating in Europe.

EU countries’ competent authorities may prohibit or restrict the use of aircraft whose compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) noise standards is only ‘marginal’, i.e. aircraft which meet the standards in force by a margin of no more than 5 decibels.

The airport authorities must establish the existence of a noise nuisance by carrying out an impact assessment and prove that all other available measures to reduce noise at the airport concerned have been taken.

Objectives and content

The 'Hushkits Regulation' was a response to the inability to reach an agreement within the ICAO on measures to control aircraft noise. Hushkits are devices fitted to the engines of older designs of aircraft in order to reduce their noise levels.

In the directive, noise management is structured around a balanced approach. It is an approach that involves solving noise problems on an ‘airport-by-airport’ basis and requires careful assessment of four key elements:

  • reduction of aeroplane noise at source;
  • land-use planning and management measures;
  • noise abatement operational procedures;
  • local operating restrictions relating to noise problems.

The objectives of the directive are to:

  • lay down rules for the EU to facilitate the introduction of operating restrictions in a consistent manner at airport level so as to limit or reduce the number of people significantly affected by the harmful effects of noise;
  • provide a framework which safeguards internal market requirements;
  • promote development of airport capacity in harmony with the environment;
  • facilitate the achievement of specific noise abatement objectives at individual airport level;
  • achieve maximum environmental benefit in the most cost-effective manner.

The directive allows for more stringent noise standards. However, unlike the 'Hushkits Regulation', it allows such restrictions to be imposed only at the most noise‑sensitive airports (those with more than 50 000 movements per year and city airports).

Four city airports (Berlin-Tempelhof, Stockholm Bromma, London City and Belfast City) will be able to apply more stringent rules. Aircraft registered in developing countries and already in use before December 2001 at the European airports concerned may be exempted for a period of ten years.

As the directive lays down identical rules for all airports, it also ensures compliance with the rules of the internal market by preventing unfair competition between airports.

The directive allows for a common approach for assessing the current and foreseeable noise climate. If necessary, airports may require that ‘marginally compliant’ aircraft, i.e. old aircraft fitted with systems which reduce noise by small amounts, be withdrawn.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2002/30/EC



OJ L 85, 28.3.2002

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 1137/2008



OJ L 311, 21.11.2008

Successive amendments and corrections to Directive 2002/30/EC have been incorporated in the basic text. This consolidated version is for reference purposes only.


Report from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 15 February 2008 - Noise Operation Restrictions at EU Airports - (Report on the application of Directive 2002/30/EC) [COM(2008) 66 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

The report looks at whether the objective of Directive 2002/30/EC has been achieved and to what extent the directive itself contributed to this. It includes an assessment of the directive’s effectiveness and concludes that it:

  • has made it possible to create a harmonised structure for a balanced approach and to ensure that all interests are taken into account when restrictions are considered;
  • has been used only at a limited number of airports and is not sufficiently clear;
  • has had a limited impact on aircraft.

Furthermore, the report notes that, in general, the number of people affected by noise has increased because the number of movements has increased.

The Commission predicts that the number of people affected will continue to rise and therefore intends to look into whether it would be possible to clarify both the provisions of the directive and its scope.

Directive 2002/49/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 June 2002 relating to the assessment and management of environmental noise [Official Journal L 189 of 18 July 2002].

Last updated: 18.07.2011